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  • Author or Editor: Panayiotis N. Varelas x
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Jose I. Suarez

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Thomas P. Bleck

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Panayiotis N. Varelas, Lotfi Hacein-Bey, Lonni Schultz, Mary Conti, Marianna V. Spanaki and Thomas A. Gennarelli

Object

The aim of this study was to examine the variables influencing the mode and location of death in patients admitted to a neurosurgical intensive care unit (NICU), including the participation of a newly appointed neurointensivist (NI).

Methods

Data from all patients admitted to a university hospital NICU were prospectively collected and compared between 2 consecutive 19-month periods before and after the appointment of an NI.

Results

One thousand eighty-seven patients were admitted before and 1279 after the NI's appointment. The withdrawal of life support (WOLS) occurred in 52% of all cases of death. Death following WOLS compared with survival was independently associated with an older patient age (OR 1.04/year, 95% CI 1.03–1.05), a higher University Hospitals Consortium (UHC) expected mortality rate (OR 1.05/%, 95% CI 1.04–1.07), transfer from another hospital (OR 3.7, 95% CI 1.6–8.4) or admission through the emergency department (OR 5.3, 95% CI 2.4–12), admission to the neurosurgery service (OR 7.5, 95% CI 3.2–17.6), and diagnosis of an ischemic stroke (OR 5.4, 95% CI 1.4–20.8) or intracerebral hemorrhage (OR 5.7, 95% CI 1.9–16.7). On discharge from the NICU, 54 patients died on the hospital ward (2.7% mortality rate). A younger patient age (OR 0.94/year, 95% CI 0.92–0.96), higher UHC-expected mortality rate (OR 1.01/%, 95% CI 1–1.03), and admission to the neurosurgery service (OR 9.35, 95% CI 1.83–47.7) were associated with death in the NICU rather than the ward. There was no association between the participation of an NI and WOLS or ward mortality rate.

Conclusions

The mode and location of death in NICU-admitted patients did not change after the appointment of an NI. Factors other than the participation of an NI—including patient age and the severity and type of neurological injury—play a significant role in the decision to withdraw life support in the NICU or dying in-hospital after discharge from the NICU.

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Hiren C. Patel, Andrew T. King and Fiona Lecky

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Romergryko G. Geocadin, Panayiotis N. Varelas, Daniele Rigamonti and Michael A. Williams

Object

The authors attempted to determine whether continuous intracrnial pressure monitoring via the shunt resevoir identifies ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt malfunctions that are not identified by radionuclide shunt patency study or shunt tap in adults with hydrocephalus.

Methods

During a 2-year period, 26 adults underwent 32 in-hospital continuous intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring evaluations via needle access of a shunt reservoir. Monitoring was performed for 26.8 ± 13.8 hours (mean ± standard deviation). No ICP waveform abnormality was detected in 31% of the evaluations (10 of 32). In contrast, abnormalities were detected in 69% (22 of 32 evaluations), including B waves (nine of 22 evaluations), siphoning (nine of 22 evaluations), and variable ICP (two of 22 evaluations). In 20 (91%) of these 22 evaluations, the ICP abnormality was detected only after continuous ICP monitoring; in the other two evaluations, ICP became abnormal immediately on accessing the shunt reservoir. On the basis of the ICP monitoring results, shunt revision was performed in 66% (21 of 32 evaluations) and medical therapy was administered in 34% (11 of 32 evaluations). Shunt revision led to symptom improvement in 82% (18 of 22 patients) and no change in 18% (four of 22 patients); medical therapy led to improvement in 18% (two of 11 patients), worsening in 18% (two of 11 patients), and no change in 64% (seven of 11 patients; p < 0.05).

Conclusions

Continuous ICP monitoring via the shunt reservoir provides a more accurate assessment of shunt malfunction than transient ICP monitoring with a shunt tap or a radionuclide shunt patency study. It is a safe method for evaluating patients with suspected VP shunt malfunction, provides in vivo assessment of the effect of the shunt system on a patient's ICP, and can lead to more effective shunt revision.

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Panayiotis N. Varelas, Dan Eastwood, Hyun J. Yun, Marianna V. Spanaki, Lotfi Hacein Bey, Christos Kessaris and Thomas A. Gennarelli

Object

The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of a newly appointed neurointensivist on outcomes in head-injured patients in the neurological/neurosurgical intensive care unit (NICU).

Methods

The mortality rate, length of stay (LOS), and discharge disposition of all patients with head trauma who had been admitted to a 10-bed tertiary care university hospital NICU were compared between two 19-month periods, before and after the appointment of a neurointensivist. Data regarding these patients were collected using the hospital database and the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) database. Samples of medical records were reviewed for Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score documentation.

The authors analyzed data pertaining to 328 patients before and 264 after the neurointensivist's appointment. The unadjusted mean in-hospital mortality rate increased 1.1% in the after period, but this increase was significantly lower compared with the UHC-based expected increase of 8.1% in the mortality rate during the same period (p < 0.0001). The unadjusted mean mortality rate in the NICU decreased from 13.4 to 12.9% (relative mortality rate reduction 4%) and the mean NICU LOS increased from 3.1 to 3.6 days (relative NICU LOS increase 16%), both nonsignificantly. A 51% reduction in the NICU-associated mortality rate (p = 0.01), a 12% shorter hospital LOS (p = 0.026), and 57% greater odds of being discharged to home or to rehabilitation (p = 0.009) were found in the after period in multivariate models after controlling for baseline differences between the two time periods. Better documentation of the GCS score by the NICU team was also found in the after period (from 60.4 to 82%, p = 0.02).

Conclusions

The institution of a neurointensivist-led team model had an independent, positive impact on patient outcomes, including a lower NICU-associated mortality rate and hospital LOS, improved disposition, and better chart documentation.